Work in Sports
Irvin banged his head into the hard turf at Veterans Stadium while trying to avoid a hit by Eagles safety Tim Hauck with 5:04 left in the first quarter.
"Everybody was hoping he was going to be OK," Dallas coach Chan Gailey said. "That's the number one thing we were thinking at the time. I don't even know what happened the rest of that drive."
His head was immobilized and he was taken off the field by ambulance and transported to Thomas Jefferson Spine Center. Initial reports from the field were that the 33-year-old Irvin suffered neck and head trauma.
Andy Reid earned his first victory as Eagles coach as his team rallied from a 10-0 deficit by scoring 13 points in the final 12 minutes. Doug Pederson's 28-yard touchdown pass to Charles Johnson with 1:07 remaining was the difference.
"When you are winless and you get a win, the meetings are different when you come in on Monday," Johnson said. We got the first win behind us, now we come in and watch films tomorrow."
It was Philadelphia's first offensive touchdown in 58 possessions and 18 quarters dating to the first quarter of its season-opening loss to Arizona.
"Overall I'm proud of the guys," Reid said. "They played very hard. It would've been very easy, having been 0-4 to tank it.
This is what rivalries are all about. Somehow you reach a little deeper and play a little bit harder in a rivalry."
The win snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Eagles (1-4), while Dallas was denied its first 4-0 start since 1995 -- its last Super Bowl season.
Field goals of 38 and 31 yards by Norm Johnson accounted for the Eagles' first six points and they began the eventual game-winning drive on their own 38-yard line with 3:13 remaining.
Staley busted loose for 19 yards on the next play before Pederson's first attempt into the end zone fell incomplete.
After a short run by Staley, who totaled 107 yards on 23 attempts, Pederson unleased a throw down the middle to a cutting Johnson, who made the catch and eluded two defenders before diving across the goal line.
"It was a dagger route. An 18-yard crossing route," Johnson said of his touchdown catch. "The plan is to clear the inside coverage out and the outside receiver comes underneath 18 yards deep. The goal is to have the coverage follow the inside receiver."
Staley topped the 100-yard plateau for the second time this season.
I thought in the second half we were more committed to the run," said Staley. "We started playing power football like I'm used to. (At halftime), we said we were going to come out and go after them (with the power run), that's the quickest and simplest game plan I know."
Pederson kept second overall draft pick Donovan McNabb on the sidelines for the first time since the Arizona contest by completing 11-of-29 passes for 145 yards while being intercepted once. He led the Eagles to 11 first downs in the second half after they picked up just one first down and never entered Dallas territory in the first 30 minutes.
"I'm glad (Reid) stuck with me," Pederson said. "It takes 60 minutes to win football games in this league. Maybe if Dallas had scored again, a touchdown possibly, to go up 17-3 then maybe you make the switch. I'm glad he stuck with me."
"I was going to let Doug start the second half," added Reid. "Then I was going to see how things went from there. I thought Doug came out and made a couple of nice throws in the first half."
Due to a penalty on the kickoff, Dallas was forced to begin its final drive on the 13. A pass interference call on the Eagles gave the Cowboys some life, but two incompletions by Troy Aikman was followed by an interception by cornerback Bobby Taylor, sealing the victory for the Eagles.
Aikman was 20-of-38 for 164 yards, but struggled in the second half without Irvin, completing just 8-of-20 for a meager 74 yards.
"The (the defense) were out there an awful long time (in the second half)," said Gailey. "That's an awful lot of pressure to put on your defense."
Thanks to a 42-yard field goal by Richie Cunningham midway through the first quarter, the Cowboys led 3-0 when they lost Irvin, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection who ranks in the top 10 all-time in catches and receiving yards.
Without his top target, Aikman went to another reliable veteran, running back Emmitt Smith, for a nine-yard touchdown pass 3:25 into the second quarter that provided the Cowboys with a 10-0 advantage.
Rocket Ismail attempted to step up in Irvin's absence, catching six passes for 75 yards.
Smith carred 30 times for 114 yards, his third 100-yard game of the season and the 58th of his career, excluding playoffs.